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Step Change Fund

The Step Change Fund focuses on capacity building and strengthening of Oxfordshire’s charitable sector.

Amounts available: £10,000–£50,000

Group annual income: Minimum £100,000, maximum £1m; total grants will be capped at £75,000 and will not normally be greater than 30% of the applicant’s annual income, should this be less

Type of cost: A project that will enable a step change. This might mean increasing capacity, becoming more cost-effective or improving your sustainability. These step changes will be the key performance indicators for your project.

Timescales: Spending can be planned over a year or more

Closing date: The next closing date for submissions is Wednesday 14th August at midday

The Step Change Fund is for charities with visionary leadership that realise they need to transform the way they are organised in order to create a more solid basis for delivering their core work. The Step Change Fund enables the local charitable sector to be stronger and more sustainable, and therefore better equipped to deal with the hard-hitting social problems faced by Oxfordshire communities.

Step Change also offers a unique proposition to grant applicants, with the support of a volunteer project manager included with every grant. The project manager, usually someone experienced in business strategy or management, will help you to develop a clear and fully costed plan to realise the step change that you desire. They will work alongside you through the duration of your project to support you in hitting targets and milestones. Applicants tell us that the project manager relationship can be hugely supportive and beneficial.

Please note that we currently have an issue with the submission of some application forms. If this is the case, please contact OCF on to confirm your application. 

What we're looking for
  • The Step Change Fund’s panel is particularly interested in projects that enable a ‘step change’ in impact or financial terms (or both). Step Change believes that charitable organisations need a well thought through future-oriented strategy to be effective in their use of time and money along with excellent leadership and internal governance.
  • Step Change only funds projects that can demonstrate they bring substantial benefit to the lives of people in Oxfordshire who are facing disadvantage.
  • This fund does not offer core funding simply for the continuance of existing services; grants will be given for projects that can demonstrate realistic plans for increasing reach and impact and for building longer-term resilience for the future. We are happy to consider covering relevant elements of core costs in your application.
  • To help you picture what a ‘step change’ can be, the Step Change Annual Report provides a summary, alongside case studies, of the types of projects that have previously been funded. The full list of grants awarded since the inception of the Step Change Fund also provides further insight into the types of projects funded.
The application process

The Step Change Fund has a three-stage application process, prior to any grant being awarded:

Start your application process by completing this Eligibility Questionnaire.

Eligibility criteria

All potential applicants must meet the following application criteria:

  • Be a Registered Charity, Community Interest Company (CIC), Company Limited by Guarantee, Unincorporated Club or Association, Community Benefit Society, Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
  • Have been in operation for at least 3 years
  • Be able to demonstrate that at least 80% of your beneficiaries are in Oxfordshire and demonstrate how your project improves the lives of people who face disadvantage in our community
  • Have at least 3 trustees or committee members who are not related to each other
  • Have strong and stable leadership in both management and trustee teams
  • Have a bank account in the organisation’s name with at least two unrelated signatories, open for 3 months or more
  • Be open to people of all religions and political affiliations and must not proselytise
  • Have annual turnover in the range of £100,000 to £1,000,000. Note, the amount you request should not exceed 30% of your organisation’s annual turnover and should be in the range of £10,000 – £50,000
  • Have at least three months’ running costs in reserves (if they are more than 12 months, an explanation will be requested)

The following groups / projects are NOT eligible:

  • National Charities (or financially integrated branches)
  • Public bodies or statutory organisations (including parish/town councils)
  • Charities where the beneficiaries are primarily animals
  • Individuals
  • Projects that are the purchase of buses or other vehicles
  • Projects where the costs have already been incurred or committed
  • Organisations that have been rejected for a Step Change grant within the last 12 months
Dates and timings

By the closing dates below, you should have submitted your Expression of Interest Form, or if you have already been given permission to proceed, your Detailed Bid Form.


Closing date (midday) Corresponding grants panel meeting date
Wednesday 14th August Wednesday 11th September
Friday 18th October Friday 15th November


Please note that the meeting dates are subject to change, and it will not be possible to provide any update on the progress of your application until after the panel has met.

Top tips for your applicationMeet the Step Change panelMeet the project managers
Groups funded by Step Change